Published May 14, 2015"The album is called Loyalty, and it's about driving," Tamara Lindeman tells Exclaim!, before adding drolly, "There's some tension there, I guess."
Of course, she's referring to her pivotal third album as the Weather Station. Loyalty is a huge step forward for the songwriter, both musically and lyrically, and also marks Lindeman's first exposure to a wider audience outside of Canada. She says she feels vulnerable about people hearing the songs, but as she discusses the new record, her pride in the project is palpable.
Lindeman recorded Loyalty with Afie Jurvanen (a.k.a. Bahamas) and Robbie Lackritz last February at La Frette-sur-Seine in France — the same ivy-walled, iron-gated mansion/studio where Lackritz engineered Feist's The Reminder. Lindeman and Jurvanen played nearly all of the instruments on the record, and Lindeman sang all the layered vocals, adding woodwinds and strings later, back in Canada.
It was important to Lindeman that despite overdubs the album have a live feel: she and Jurvanen laid down drums and guitars or both their guitar parts simultaneously in much the same way that Lindeman recorded her 2011 sophomore album, All of It Was Mine, with Daniel Romano — with the two sitting and facing each other.
"It's the best way for me to feel a song," says Lindeman. "And then you've got a full take, you have to perform it in full and you can't mess around. I have a problem I need to get over. I hate click tracks and refuse to use them – which is very obvious on this record. So that's why it's not perfect."
If the record is not perfect, it is near-perfect in its imperfections: the music travels and breathes while conveying a new, deeper feeling of groundedness; Lindeman's vocals sound husky and assured over Jurvanen's textures and rhythms as she lyrically explores and describes complicated, nuanced relationships with friends, family, love interests, and art/work.
Surprisingly, Lindeman confesses that Loyalty is actually her second attempt at making a third album. After a warm response to All of It Was Mine, she recorded 12 songs, which she decided to not release.
"I just didn't feel like it was a record," she says. "I went through this whole 'I'm a failure' thing.... I think it was just that I wasn't ready. And then Afie said, 'Do you want to go record in Paris?' and I said, 'Yes, but to do that, I'd have to get over this thing that I thought: that I wasn't very good.'"
This was December 2013 — Lindeman had just two months to write the songs that would end up on Loyalty, including the phenomenal "Shy Women," which she says is probably her favourite of the songs she wrote leading up to the recording.
"It was amazing!" Lindeman says of the streamlined process. "Recording this record was just so great. I went to Paris and I was really nervous, obviously. And then the first day I got on the vocal mic and I thought, 'this is fine, everything is great.' It was funny.
"It was a good reminder of how precious confidence is, you know? I'm not good at summoning that kind of blind confidence some men have. When I feel strongly about what I'm saying, that's when I feel confident."
The two words that come up in nearly every song on Loyalty are "driving" and "loneliness" — Lindeman is constantly driving throughout the album.
"I think driving shakes you up a bit and gets you thinking," Lindeman says. "Country songs are always about driving, journeys, and these sorts of things. I found that these songs were about journeys but not."
The Weather Station hits the road on a North American tour this week. You can see all the Canadian stops below and the U.S. dates here.
Meanwhile, Loyalty is out now via Outside Music in Canada and Paradise of Bachelors in the U.S.
05/14 Toronto, ON - The Great Hall
05/21 Wakefield, QC - Blacksheep Tavern
05/25 Winnipeg, MB - West End Cultural Centre *
05/27 Saskatoon, SK - Broadway Theatre *
05/29 Edmonton, AB - Royal Albert Museum *
05/30 Calgary, AB - Central United Church *
06/01 Nelson, BC - Civic Theatre *
06/03 Victoria, BC - Alix Goolden Performance Hall *
06/04 Vancouver, BC - The Vogue Theatre *
07/10 to 07/12 Winnipeg, MB - Winnipeg Folk Fest
07/24 to 07/26 Guelph, ON - Hillside Festival
* with Great Lake Swimmers